The Importance of Dietary Fiber on Stress Hormone in Pregnancy: A Literature Review



Helena Fabiani (Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia)
Henny Tannady Tan (Universitas Kristen Krida Wacana, Jakarta, Indonesia)


Antepartum depression is a mental health issue that is frequently ignored and often leads to suicidal behaviours. The harmful effects of antepartum depression are not only experienced by mothers, but also by children in the future. Depression due to pregnancy is usually attributed to several causes, including the biological component. Biological shifts that arise during gestation interrupt the maternal stress protection mechanism, one of which is the dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis) resulting in hypersecretion of cortisol. Excessive release of cortisol as a stress hormone has been correlated with depressive symptoms, particularly throughout pregnancy. Recently, dietary factors, in particular dietary fiber, have become of concern as component that is recognized to attenuate stress hormones. The dietary fiber that is ingested will be digested by intestinal bacteria and will produce short-chain fatty acids as the essential metabolites. These metabolites are known to play a role in various brain functions, including HPA-axis through various means. The objective of this research is aimed at determining the function of dietary fiber within cortisol as a biomarker of the central stress response system, particularly throughout pregnancy.


Dietary fiber, HPA-axis, cortisol, short-chain fatty acid, stress, pregnancy

Full Text:



Burokas, A. et al. (2017) ‘Targeting the microbiota-gut-brain axis: Prebiotics have anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects and reverse the impact of chronic stress in mice’, Biological Psychiatry, 82(7), pp. 472–487.

Caprita, A. et al. (2010) ‘Dietary fiber : Chemical and functional properties’, Journal of Agroalimentary Processes and Technologies, 16(4), pp. 406–416.

Christian, L. M. et al. (2016) ‘Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) across pregnancy and postpartum: Associations with race, depressive symptoms, and low birth weight’, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 74(12), pp. 69–76.

Clark, A. and Mach, N. (2016) ‘Exercise-induced stress behavior, gut-microbiota-brain axis and diet: A systematic review for athletes’, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13(1), pp. 1–21.

Dalile, B. et al. (2019) The role of short-chain fatty acids in microbiota–gut–brain communication, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Dinan, T. G. and Cryan, J. F. (2012) ‘Regulation of the stress response by the gut microbiota: Implications for psychoneuroendocrinology’, Psychoneuroendocrinology. Elsevier Ltd, 37(9), pp. 1369–1378.

Dominiczak, M. H., Beastall, G. and Wallace, A. M. (2014) ‘Biosynthesis of Cholesterol and Steroids’, in Baynes, J. W. and Dominiczak, M. H. (eds) Medical Biochemistry. 4th edn. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, pp. 209–211.

Farzi, A., Fröhlich, E. E. and Holzer, P. (2018) ‘Gut microbiota and the neuroendocrine system’, Neurotherapeutics. Neurotherapeutics, 15(1), pp. 5–22.

FDA (2018) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition Facts Label, Dietary fiber, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: (Accessed: 16 July 2020).

Gropper, S. and Smith, J. (2013) ‘Lipids’, in Gropper, S. and Smith, J. (eds) Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 6th edn. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, pp. 138–140.

Holscher, H. D. (2017) ‘Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota’, Gut Microbes, 8(2), pp. 172–184.

Jiang, X. et al. (2019) ‘Crude fiber modulates the fecal microbiome and steroid hormones in pregnant Meishan sows’, General and Comparative Endocrinology, 277(6), pp. 141–47.

Kementerian Kesehatan RI (2019) Angka Kecukupan Gizi. Jakarta: Kementerian Kesehatan RI.

Krishna, G. and Muralidhara (2015) ‘Inulin supplementation during gestation mitigates acrylamide-induced maternal and fetal brain oxidative dysfunctions and neurotoxicity in rats’, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 49, pp. 49–58.

Lattimer, J. M. and Haub, M. D. (2010) ‘Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health’, pp. 1266–1289.

Lemmens, S. G. et al. (2011) ‘Influence of consumption of a high-protein vs. high- carbohydrate meal on the physiological cortisol and psychological mood response in men and women’, PLoS ONE, 6(2).

Miki, T. et al. (2015) ‘Dietary intake of minerals in relation to depressive symptoms in Japanese employees: The Furukawa Nutrition and Health Study’, Nutrition, 31(5), pp. 686–690.

Mohajeri, M. H. et al. (2018) ‘The role of the microbiome for human health: from basic science to clinical applications’, European Journal of Nutrition. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 57(1), pp. 1–14.

Orta, O. R. et al. (2017) ‘The association between maternal cortisol and depression during pregnancy, a systematic review’, Physiology & behavior, 176(3), pp. 139–148.

Osborne, S. et al. (2018) ‘Antenatal depression programs cortisol stress reactivity in offspring through increased maternal inflammation and cortisol in pregnancy: The Psychiatry Research and Motherhood – Depression (PRAM-D) Study’, Psychoneuroendocrinology. Elsevier, 98(December 2017), pp. 211–221.

Rackers, H. et al. (2017) ‘Emerging literature in the microbiota-brain axis and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders’, Physiology & behavior, 176(3), pp. 139–148.

Rea, K., Dinan, T. G. and Cryan, J. F. (2016) ‘The microbiome: A key regulator of stress and neuroinflammation’, Neurobiology of Stress. The Authors, 4, pp. 23–33.

Sampson, T. R. and Mazmanian, S. K. (2017) ‘Control of brain development, function, and behavior by the microbiome’, Physiology & behavior, 176(5), pp. 139–148.

Savignac, H. et al. (2015) ‘Bifidobacteria modulate cognitive processes in an anxious mouse strain’, Behavioural Brain Research, 287(1 July 2015), pp. 59–72.

Schmidt, K. et al. (2015) ‘Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers’, Psychopharmacology, 232(10), pp. 1793–1801.

Seth, S., Lewis, A. J. and Galbally, M. (2016) ‘Perinatal maternal depression and cortisol function in pregnancy and the postpartum period: A systematic literature review’, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(1).

Sharma, S. K. et al. (2016) ‘Utilization of food processing by-products as dietary, functional, and novel fiber: A review’, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 56(10), pp. 1647–1661.

Sugiyama, F. et al. (2017) ‘Effects of fiber supplementation for four weeks on athletic performance in Japanese college athletes: A case study—measurement of the athletic performance, salivary biomarkers of stress, and mood, affect balance’, Health, 09(03), pp. 556–567.

Szpunar, M. J. and Parry, B. L. (2018) ‘A systematic review of cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone and prolactin in peripartum women with major depression’, Arch Womens Ment Health, 2(12), pp. 149–161.

WHO (2015) Maternal mental health, World Health Organization. Available at: (Accessed: 30 July 2020).

Zielinski, G. et al. (2013) ‘Dietary fiber methods in Codex Alimentarius: Current status and ongoing discussions’, Cereal Foods World, 58(3), pp. 148–152.

Article Metrics

This article has been read : 274 times
PDF file viewed/downloaded : 113 times

Copyright & License

Copyright (c) 2021 Helena Fabiani, Henny Tannady Tan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Published by:
Undergraduate Program of Midwifery
Faculty of Medicine - Universitas Andalas - Indonesia
Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Andalas

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.